Rose and River met in a bar. This was the old days, before Rose started playing with the universe, before she got her man and then he actually was a man.
"Hi," said River Song.
"Hi," said Rose Tyler.
She was thinking of the Doctor. This wasn't unusual, because she was always thinking of the Doctor. This time, though, she was thinking of another woman kissing him. Hoping it wouldn't happen. And knowing that it would.
"Who's the lucky man?" asked River.
Rose blinked and noticed her properly, noticed the older woman all in black. She looked out of place in the studenty bar, surrounded by drunk girls and their drunker boyfriends. Rose knew that she herself looked out of place there too; she only came there because it had been a favourite hangout of Mickey's back in the old days. In another world.
"No-one," she said.
"By your tone of voice, quite a no-one," said River. "Let me get you a drink."
Rose let her. She watched River walk to the bar, parting the crowds, moving like a snake.
"I don't swing that way, yeah?" she said to River when she got back.
River shrugged elegantly.
"You're looking at me like I remind you of someone," she said.
"I've met a lot of people," Rose answered. "Course you're gonna remind me of someone." She looked River up and down. She was dressed like she'd come from a funeral.
"Well, I know your type," River said. "I've met many of them. Young girls who don't fit in, who don't belong, who can't quite distribute their love appropriately." The lights in the bar flickered on and off to announce the start of happy hour. "Who always, always get their heart broken."
Rose tried to think of something sarcastic in response, but came out with "Whatever." And River raised an eyebrow.
"My boyfriend just dumped me, yeah?" Rose finally said. "I mean, we weren't quite...but now it's official."
"He's got someone else. He's over me now, he said."
"I find it hard to believe," River said thoughtfully, "that someone could get over you." And Rose didn't look at her eyes.
"What was his name?" River asked.
River didn't say anything, but she had a vaguely knowing expression on her face, and Rose was suddenly tired of her. She stood up.
"I gotta go now, okay?"
"Mickey left you for a man, didn't he?" River said.
And Rose sat back down again. "Yes. He did. Bloke called Jake." She felt real anger all of a sudden and glared at River. "Torchwood sent you, didn't they? They employ me now, they're checking up on me, yeah?"
"I'm more what you might call a freelancer," River said.
The lights flickered again.
"I just want to go home," Rose said wearily, not even realising she was about to say such a thing.
"Far away," Rose said gloomily. "Thank you for the drink."
She was going to leave then, she really was, but something about River was making her stay. And River clearly knew it.
"Must be hard," River said, "your boyfriend leaving you like that."
"I never even knew he was gay or bisexual or anything," Rose said. "I...went away. And when I came back he'd all changed."
"That happens," said River.
Rose sat back and considered her feelings. Anger, sadness, and guilt all at once. And not all of it was directed towards Mickey either. "There was this other man. Called the Doctor. He's gone now too, and I...I'll probably never see him again...but he's gonna change too."
"Move on," said River softly.
"He'll move on, and you will too. Everyone does."
"Well, I don't want to," Rose said firmly, and that seemed the end of that. The two woman sat in silence.
"I lost someone too," River said.
"Did he turn out to be gay?" Rose asked. It came out far sharper than she intended. "I mean, did he...change? While you weren't looking?"
"All the time," River answered. She seemed very far away for a second. Just for a second. "And he loved others, who weren't me."
"Sorry," said Rose. And River smiled.
"I don't even know your name," she said. "Not your full name. Just Rose."
"Rose Marion Tyler."
"River Song," said River.
"That's a nice name."
"I always thought so."
The bar was starting to empty.
"Did your bloke...did he...did he sometimes look like he was making the move on other people when he was supposed to be, you know, with you?" Rose asked.
"Yes," said River.
"Mine...he sort of did. I think it was just his nature. There was this French girl, he really liked her. He always liked so many people..."
"It hurts, doesn't it?" River said.
Rose had a feeling she knew where this would end up. And she thought of Mickey in bed with Jake.
"It really hurts," she said.
It happened. They ended up in bed.
"River," said Rose anxiously, "I might be doing this for revenge. You know, cos of Mickey. Or any number of other reasons, I don't know."
"And I don't care," River said serenely. "I like you. You're my kind of person."
"I've never done this before."
"That's okay," River said, "just follow me."
"Doctor," Rose said dreamily.
Afterwards, when the pleasure died down, Rose thought of him again. And felt crushingly bad.
"Don't worry," said River, "the men in your life will forgive you, you haven't done anything they haven't done."
"I don't want to move on," Rose said. "Not properly. Not really."
"Did you like it, though?"
"Yes," Rose said.
"It doesn't make me a lesbian."
"No," River said. She smiled. Again. "So, Rose." She made herself comfortable on the messy bed. "Who's this other guy of yours? Who's this Doctor?"
Rose looked away and decided to tell her. Heck, they'd had sex already. "He was this man, alright? Just a man I liked. Really liked."
"Oh?" said River. And she touched Rose's arm. "What was his name?"
"His real name?" Rose asked. "I don't know." She felt like crying, felt like a cheat, and then she was looking at River's dark eyes and River said,
Things in general stopped.
Rose said, "Oh."
"Yeah," said River, who was suddenly different, something powerful and old and actually like the Doctor instead of the Doctor in Rose's head, "I know him."
Rose waited for something to happen, but it didn't, it was all up to her these days.
"You said you liked me," she finally said.
"Yes. I said you were my kind of person."
"Don't tell me," Rose said. "You hate your kind of people."
"I don't," River said calmly. She was redressed now. "Rose. We're moving on. So thank you."
"I don't want to!" Rose said, almost crying again. "You can't just come here and...use me like this!"
"I'm sorry," River said. "That wasn't my intention." But she said sorry in a different way to how Rose was used to, and she wanted to run.
"You won't see me again, if you don't want to," River said.
"Will I see him again?" Rose asked, not even knowing why she was asking.
"I don't know," River said. And then she smiled sadly and said, "I don't know him. Not well enough."
"Are you from here? Or from my world?" Rose demanded. "Cos if you're from my world I want to come with you!"
"No," said River firmly, "you don't."
"Sorry," River said. "It's been nice, Rose Tyler." And then she just ran- out of the door, down the stairs, into the street. Rose ran after her, but she was gone, and there was just a fizz in the air. She sank onto her front step, and thought of Mickey with Jake, and, although she had no evidence that it was the case, River with the Doctor. Her hands all over him. Then she went back inside.
The next day she started work on the Dimension Cannon.